Long after the clock had struck midnight, while in the middle of a heated session in Brazil’s House of Representatives, the leader of the Brazilian ruling party, the PT (Workers Party), Paulo Teixeira, discovered that the text of the bill under discussion, the new Land Use Code (“Código Florestal”), was different from a text that had been agreed on earlier.
Teixeira accused the deputy in charge of writing the text, Aldo Rebelo (PCdoB), of breaking an agreement made with political party leaders and presenting a deviant text. Rebelo denied the accusation saying the text he presented on the floor was the same text approved in prior negotiations with political party leaders that had been concluded at around 9 pm.
Teixeira was categorical: “There is stuff in the text Rebelo presented that was expurgated during party leader negotiations. This is a breach of trust.”
Rebelo denied making any changes: “I did not change anything and I have witnesses. Political party leaders saw me write the text.”
Teixeira accused Rebelo of making changes in the text in two places. Specifically, wording that delegated to states the consolidation of areas of permanent preservation (“APPs”) (which was to be a prerogative of president Dilma Rousseff) and wording that undermined the creation of a brake that restrained the division of properties greater than four taxable areas (“módulos fiscais”).
The brake would have made it impossible for owners of large areas to subdivide them so as to avoid mandatory reforestation).
After another postponement of the vote on the new Land Use law, Gilberto Carvalho, the president’s main liaison man (head of the “Secretaria-Geral da Presidência”), declared that everyone involved needs to cool off.
“This question cannot be seen as a matter of black and white, or a game between do-or-die rivals. This issue calls for prudence. It is something that affects all of society. We need more balance and less passion because we are dealing with the future of the country,” said Carvalho during an interview on the radio program, Good Morning, Minister, that is produced by the Presidential Secretariat of Social Communication and EBC Services.
Another attempt to get the code voted on is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday, May 17.
Congress has been trying to vote a new Land Use Code into law for 12 years. Now, the issue pits a government that has declared it will not give amnesty to the perpetrators of illegal deforestation that occurred in the past and will not permit illegal deforestation in the future against a powerful farm lobby (“bancada ruralista”) in the Congress that wants a free hand to do what it believes is best.
Environmental activists are with the government on this but know that what they call “an ugly compromise” is the most likely outcome.
According to Gilberto Carvalho, president Dilma Rousseff has been following the negotiations closely but has avoided making public statements on the code while it is being dealt with in Congress.